How Do I Help When My Child is Excluded?


Published:

Question: My 8-year-old daughter Eliana was devastated last year when valentine cards and gifts were flying around her classroom, and she only received one. She is already dreading the upcoming Valentine's Day, which may be a repetition of last year. Is there anything we can do to help?

Answer: We all take pleasure in the joys of Valentine's Day, but you remind us that some children experience this day painfully rather than pleasurably. Understanding the basis for your daughter's isolation on this day will provide the tools to help her.

Why children may not receive valentines

It's safe to assume the particular situation in which Eliana is not receiving valentines reflects a broader pattern. She may focus particularly on this day since it receives so much attention, but the reasons she does not receive valentine cards or gifts do not reside in Valentine's Day. What are some common reasons a child is shunned?

A child may be socially awkward, perhaps even slightly off-putting to friends. For example, a child may have trouble respecting others' space or say things other children find perplexing or even a bit odd. Children often pull back from a socially awkward child, not because they wish to hurt a child's feelings, but because something about the child makes them feel uncomfortable.

Some children are socially capable when they are in a comfortable situation, but may be shy and/or anxious and reluctant to readily engage in usual classroom social life. As a result, other children might not think about including them but are not actively shunning them.

When a child is unpleasant to others, either inadvertently or with awareness and intent, classmates just notice and care about how they themselves are being treated and likely do not understand that the unpleasant child may be suffering inside.

Bullying may be suspected when one or several children are harassing a child. Eliana is not receiving valentines from many children, so it is unlikely she is being bullied.

Listen and empathize

The first step is to hear Eliana out. Perhaps she will share her worries about how the day will go, her anticipated embarrassment or her gripes about her classmates. Simply acknowledging her feelings and pain will help her the most.

You may want to ease her pain by sharing that you had similar experiences (if that is the case) and that they did not last forever. Also consider pointing out that she is not the only child in the class who may be disappointed in her valentines, or remind her that she has many friends in the neighborhood. Offer these reassurances carefully and as a small part of your response because otherwise Eliana might feel as if you cannot tolerate or accept her painful feelings. Hugs and expressions of your wishes that things were different will be the most supportive ways to comfort her.

Address possible causes

Another way to help Eliana is more complex and emotionally difficult. If she is shy, socially awkward or acting in a negative or provocative way with her peers, she has some responsibility for her social situation. Each possible reason poses different challenges for her and you.

If your daughter is shy, we certainly do not want her to feel that there is anything wrong with being that way. There isn't. Yet the inescapable, no-fault reality is that her shyness affects how others respond to her. Gently, lovingly and gradually bringing this issue to her attention over time can provide her with the motivation and empowerment to reach out socially. Even if she cannot, or chooses not to make that great effort, she will better understand that others are not being mean, that she is not disliked or unlikeable, but that rather she is just not part of the social mix.

The situation is different for a child who aggravates friends. It's particularly important for that child to understand that she is provoking her isolation. Many children with this problem will reject this reality because they often have trouble accepting their role in producing such undesirable situations, and they often blame others.

Socially awkward children pose the greatest challenge for parents because they are often limited in their ability to change or even understand why they can't connect with others. Yet they also need to understand, over a long period of time and with careful discussion, that their abilities and social capacities are different than those of many children in the classroom. It is kinder to gradually introduce these children to their differences than to allow them to continue to suffer in confusion as the isolation and negativity from their peers continue over the years.

It is painful for loving parents to see their child being rejected. However, life is filled with experiences that don't go well, and childhood is the time to learn how to deal with pain and disappointment. With your help, Eliana will come through this stronger, more realistic and in a better position to face the coming years.  n

The Lucy Daniels Center is a nonprofit agency in Cary that promotes the health and well-being of children and families. To submit a question, please email editorial@carolinaparent.com. This month's question may be a composite or illustration of a parent's concerns.

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Calendar

December 2016

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Cost: Free

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Crowder District Park
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4109 Guess Road
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
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Cost: Free

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theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe

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Sacred Heart Cathedral
200 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Telephone: 919-212-7695
Contact Name: Josh Ingersoll
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Cost: Free

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7713 Leadmine Road
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Sponsor: Mocha Moms of Raleigh
Contact Name: Lauren Massie
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Cost: Free

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Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Cost: Free

Where:
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4109 Guess Road
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
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Cost: Free

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Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
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Cost: Donation of a canned good or new toy for an area crisis ministry

Where:
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1300 Corporate Chaplain Dr.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
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Telephone: 919-570-0700
Website »

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Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: Free

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Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $18

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1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Cost: Free with admission

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10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
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Cost: Free with admission

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10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Telephone: 919-212-7695
Contact Name: Josh Ingersoll
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More information

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Cost: $5/child member, $7/child nonmember

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JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-513-7011
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Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Read the story by Patricia Polacco and hear how other people celebrate the winter holiday season. All ages with adult.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

More information

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Cost: Donation of a canned good or new toy for an area crisis ministry

Where:
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1300 Corporate Chaplain Dr.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Corporate Chaplains of America
Telephone: 919-570-0700
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
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Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
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Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $8-$35

Where:
Wake Med Cross Country Course/Wake Med Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Drive
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


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Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Magnet High School, South Campus
8828 Hebron Church Rd.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: GMHS PTSA
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Cost: $35/child, $15/adult

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
Website »

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Cost: $6 in advance, $8 at door. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
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9121 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Windborne United Methodist Preschool
Telephone: 919.342.6075
Contact Name: Laura Bass
Website »

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Join Mrs. Claus for breakfast and a short story. After visiting with Mrs. Claus, enjoy a holiday craft. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919.460.7747
Contact Name: Kathy Burns
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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. Ages 14 and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Create a keepsake gingerbread house. Register online.

Cost: $12/member, $15/nonmember; $20/house

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn, explore and play outdoors while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park
1639 University Dr.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
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Beginner, amateur and advanced BMX riders take part in a competition. Register online. Spectators attend free of charge. Food available for purchase.

Cost: $30-$35

Where:
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
171 Tradition Trail, Ste. 207
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
Telephone: 919-557-8088
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Enjoy an introduction to cloth diapering. This class includes information about types of diapers, accessories, and care of cloth. The class will include handouts to take home so that parents can...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-803-3521
Contact Name: Heather Dickens
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See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
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Make a holiday ornament with the Durham Arts Council.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd., Ste. 132
Durham, NC  27701
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Make memories by creating a gingerbread house with freshly baked gingerbread, handmade icing and candy. This event benefits a community preschool. Register online for either the 11 a.m.-noon...

Cost: $40/house (includes a whole group of family or friends)

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Ginger B. House
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Discover handmade treasures and wonderful treats at this years holiday shopping event of the year. Holiday refreshments will be enjoyed throughout the event. Door prizes will be given out every...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fuquay-Varina Woman's Club House
602 N. Ennis Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Sponsor: Ballentine-Spence House
Telephone: 925-399-1629
Contact Name: Anna Campbell
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This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. TheCoderSchool is joining the global "Hour of Code" movement. Be one of the tens of millions of students around the...

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe
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Visit with Santa at the birth center, and enjoy milk and cookies and storytime. Kids can talk with Santa about their holiday gift wishes. Santa will also be handing out candy canes. All attendees...

Cost: Free

Where:
Baby+Company Cary
226 Asheville Ave Ste 20
Cary, NC  27518
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Ages 6-10 enjoy nature activities and projects. Registration required.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Decorate a gingerbread house. Participants receive an undecorated gingerbread house with royal icing and tasty toppings. Hot chocolate bar included. Ages 4 and older with family.

Cost: $25

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
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Join Wendell Falls for its first Holiday Sip and Shop event, which is free and open to the public. Tour gorgeous model homes while picking up last-minute gifts from a variety of vendors. Tasting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls by Newland Communities
320 Vintage Point Ln
Wendell , NC  27591
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Carolina Ballet gets families into Christmas spirit when one of its principal dancers, Lara O'Brien, reads "The Nutcracker." Ages 4 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Walk through the scenes of Jesus' birth in the maze. Take a flashlight if you plan to arrive after 4 p.m. The event also features Santa, storytime and cookies with Mrs. Claus, crafts and games...

Cost: $10/person at the farm gate. Cash only

Where:
Lazy O Farm
3583 Packing Plant Road
Smithfield, NC  27577
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Sponsor: Lazy O Farm
Telephone: 919-934-1132
Contact Name: Tami Thompson
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Take a hike with park staff to investigate animal lives and adaptations using your five senses. Ages 5 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

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Make creative gifts for friends and family using items found in nature. Enjoy hot chocolate. Ages 6-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register online. Choose course #194798.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-2871
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More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Santa for wagon ride to explore the back roads of the park. Listen to stories and sing Christmas carols. Take a blanket. All ages. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter. Register online.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
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Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

More information

Learn about nature as the sun sets. All ages with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $20/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Rose of Sharon Baptist Church presents "Christmas Plugged," a drive-up, synchronized, Christmas music light show to 90.1 FM. Enjoy  20,000 LED bulbs as they dance to familiar tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

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Celebrate the 20th birthday of Jellybeans Super Skate Center. Free skating takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Jellybeans Super Skate Center
1120 Buck Jones Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Website »

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Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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